On International Women’s Day, Perficient and Adobe celebrated by co-hosting our annual Women in Digital panel with a group of accomplished digital leaders (who happen to be women) where we discussed topics ranging from career paths to prioritizing the next wave of business strategies to leadership approaches in hybrid work environments. Read the recap.
At the end of the panel I found myself wanting more and had so many take aways that any woman, no matter the stage in their digital career, can put into practice today. Some of these came from the panel session itself but some of them came from the ‘behind the scenes’ prep discussions leading up to the panel. I don’t want anyone to miss out so here are some of those take aways, and I think more importantly, some of the thinking and background discussion this group of tenured, diverse, smart women brought to the table.
- Is it really still that challenging to be a woman in technology?
- Are traditional career paths still a ‘thing’?
- How can you better ‘show up’ at work in this remote world?
Take Away #1 – Be a Barrier Buster
One of my goals in leading the panel this year was to ‘elevate’ the conversation around women in digital; moving away from a tone of ‘it’s hard to be a woman in this industry.’ While the group appreciated the sentiment, they quickly put me back in my place pointing out that while we are all here because we didn’t let being a woman become a blocker in driving our careers, it certainly wasn’t without its challenges. As digital leaders we cannot ignore the fact that still, in 2022, women hold fewer than 20% of leadership positions in the tech industry and the truth of the history behind that small number.
As leaders we need to invest more time (yes, more) in removing blockers, real or perceived, experienced by women entering the technology field. If our goal is to NOT have to talk about the challenges of being a woman in digital, we are the only ones who can make that happen.
Take Away #2 – Say Yes More
We received several questions from attendees related to career paths in digital. Where to start? Certifications? Better industries to start in? What should I say ‘no’ to? What should I say ‘yes’ to? Such great questions with as many answers as there are paths. The group discussed how their career paths varied wildly from each other as well as how they started vs. how they are going. Representing healthcare, automotive, manufacturing and software, the only thing the group’s paths had in common is the digital lens itself.
Don’t chase the myth of the defined career path. Don’t think you need to stick to one department, company, or even industry. Don’t be afraid to say yes. Keep your options open and look for opportunities to take on challenges you’re not sure you can conquer. It might be scary at first but taking the risk to learn always pays off.
Take Away #3 – Practice Empathy
There is no denying the pandemic changed how we do business and how we work with our teams day-to-day. There is no ‘getting back to normal.’ While organizations now (hopefully) have better resiliency plans in place to deal with next disruption teams are still trying to figure out how to get work done today. For women in our field who survived the last two years or for those looking to re-enter the field (women in tech were almost twice as likely as men in the same industry to leave their jobs, be laid off, or furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic) ‘getting stuff done’ presents an even greater challenge than before. Our group agreed that to be successful in our teams, projects, and careers empathy needs to play a much larger role in how we approach it all.
Let empathy lead you in all things. Regardless of the position you hold in your company or team; whatever project you’re trying to get out the door or big account you’re trying to land; whatever ‘life’ throws at you, it’s throwing something at the person next to you (virtually) too. Go out of your way to make your teammates feel seen. Empathy is a practice that will strengthen over time. Regular flexing will enable you to bust those barriers for women in your network. And don’t forget to practice empathy with yourself either. It will allow you to take those risks that grow your career.